Amateur Hour

Sean Desmond at Crown has preempted world English rights to a new book by veteran journalist Jack Hitt entitled The Pursuit of Happiness; David McCormick at McCormick & Williams negotiated the deal. In the book, Hitt will contend that Americans, from the best to the brightest, are all a bunch of amateurs—from the founding fathers who improvised their way to a revolutionary new nation to the Stanford students who created Google. In arguing that Americans' willingness not to rely on experts but to topple conventional thinking is part of our cultural DNA, Hitt will provide a field guide to what he sees as this essentially American trait. Hitt is a contributor to many publications; Crown has a tentative pub date of summer 2008.

Life of Hazan

Gotham's William Shinker has acquired world rights to Amarcord: Marcella Remembers: A Life with, for, Because of Food, a memoir by acclaimed cookbook author Marcella Hazan and her husband, Victor; agent Robert Levine made the deal and Erin Moore will edit. "Amarcord" means "I remember" in the dialect of Romagna, Marcella's native region, and the book will take readers through Hazan's memories of her life and career, from her childhood in Italy during the war to meeting her husband and moving to America. Throughout, Hazan will use food as a lens to describe defining moments in her life—Mussolini's reign is recalled as a time when she learned to make butter from the cream that had risen to the top of the milk pail, and her first job in the U.S. is marked by the startling realization that her boss had never tasted eggplant or artichokes. Since then, Hazan has taught Italian cooking on every continent, published six award-winning cookbooks, run her own cooking schools in New York and Italy, and appeared on numerous TV and radio shows.

On Liz

Holt's George Hodgman has acquired world rights to William J. Mann's How to Be a Movie Star: Elizabeth Taylor in Hollywood from agent Malaga Baldi. This will be a definitive biography as well as a large-scale Hollywood epic that will show how Taylor changed and helped create the business of movie stardom in the 20th century. Mann, the author of Kate: The Woman Who Was Hepburn (also published by Holt) will cover several eras in the film business and feature an all-star cast, while concentrating largely on the period of Taylor's greatest celebrity appeal. Publication is slated for October 2009.

Superpower Secrets

Megan Newman and Lucia Watson at Penguin/Avery have acquired North American rights to Dr. Uzzi Reiss and Yfat Reiss's The Natural Superwoman; Peter McGuigan at Sanford Greenburger made the six-figure deal. Dr. Reiss, a Hollywood ob/gyn and controversial hormone expert, will team up with daughter Yfat to suggest some simple steps toward helping shape up and enliven the female mind, body, psyche and libido. Dr. Reiss is also the author of How to Make a Pregnant Woman Happy. Avery will publish in late 2007 or early 2008.

The Briefing

Harmony's John Glusman has acquired world rights to a yet-untitled autobiography by film honcho Sherry Lansing; Lynn Nesbit at Janklow & Nesbit brokered the deal. The book will cover her entire life. Lansing intends to donate proceeds to cancer research.